“I always try to smell like a rich old whore!” purrs Justin Vivian Bond as they reach a long, polished arm with a prodigious starfish bangle at their wrist towards the bar at popular East Village gay haunt The Boiler Room. No, no, no, this isn’t how the JW Anderson and Saks Fifth Avenue dinner to celebrate Anderson’s cute new Bumper Bag already beloved by Dua Lipa started, but like any respectable or worthwhile event, the dinner became a drinks that became a dancing, culminating with gin and tonics and cheeky noshes of gossip traded between friends. “The shoes are actually really good for dancing,” a guest winked on the walk between Joe’s Pub and The Boiler Room—seven minutes, 0.3 miles, though others queued up their drivers—as a cluster of metal ringlets fell off a JW Anderson dress and onto the sidewalk. Mid-stride, Anderson picked it up, pressed it into my palm, and laughed, “Quality control!” a dangly bauble to try to compete with Bond over most compelling arm movements. (They win, hands up, hands down.) No photos emerged from the bar—the telltale sign of a really riotously good time.
So I won’t tell you all the excellent morsels traded over Budweisers in one hand. Sorry! They just don’t make fun like they used to—even after nearly three straight days of pre-parties and after-parties, Anderson knows how to put together an evening of intimate surprises and old-fashioned hijinks.
Instead, let’s rewind by about two hours, and you find fashion’s coolest—and those with lots of post-Met Gala stamina—sat around long tables at The Library at Joe’s Pub. Richie Khan and Tommy Dorfman, clad in JW Anderson, traded Met Gala afterparty tales. Ella Emhoff admired the tinsel knitting on her dress. Meadow Walker crushed into her husband’s arm. Before dinner, Saks’s Roopal Patel stood for a toast, tearing up as she honored Anderson’s decade-long career. “I can’t look at you, actually, or I’m going to cry!” she whispered to her designer seatmate.
“It’s really humbling,” said Anderson during his toast. “Thank you very much for all being here on a random night, and thank you very much, Saks, for believing in me and believing that fashion matters.” Of his return stateside, nearly three years since his last visit, he said, “It’s just been nice to see people that I love, people that I look up to, and people who supported me since the very beginning when no one believed in me.” Hard not to believe in him now, still at just 37, a wunderkind turned firebrand of fashion. And even after a long night of cheers, he’s got to get back to work.
Fast forward to the after-after party. “The car’s just up the street,” Anderson said, pointing towards First Avenue. Said vehicle will take him back to Boston, where he is designing the costumes for Luca Guadagnino’s new Amy Pascal-produced and Zendaya-starring film Challengers. What time was that? At some point after, my friend Rachel grabbed my arm and said, “we must go home now.” And regrettably, we did cab it all the way back to Brooklyn only to wake up this morning and recount every word from the night before.